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Teacher Carrie Merritt helps her first-grade students learn coding on an iPad. By Donald WittkowskiAfter several meeting with light agendas, City Council had a full docket this week.Having previously wrestled with the boardwalk performers issue two other times, Ocean City is making a third attempt to manage crowd safety and street performers on the Boardwalk. All while preserving the entertainment value that they bring and their right to express themselves.City Council introduced an ordinance Thursday night that designates special areas of the Boardwalk where the performers would be allowed to entertain crowds. In the past, the city had considered confining them to a much smaller section of the Boardwalk, between Fifth and Sixth streets, that was dubbed “performers alley.”City Solicitor Dorothy McCrosson said regulations are needed to control a significant increase in the number of performers in recent years. In the past, Boardwalk business owners have complained that large crowds milling around the performers blocked access to their stores.McCrosson noted that Mayor Jay Gillian’s administration has collaborated with the Boardwalk Merchants Association on a plan that would avoid conflicts between local businesses and the performers.Wes Kazmarck, President of the Boardwalk Merchants Association, told Council that he believes the ordinance is a “very good compromise.”“It’s kind of a win for both sides,” Kazmarck said.Speaking to Council, the mayor stressed that the proposed ordinance is not an attempt to keep street performers off the Boardwalk. He said the city is simply trying to balance the rights of the business owners and the performers “to make it fair for everyone.”“We’re not going to punish the kids. We’re going to work with the kids,” Gillian said of young performers. He later added, “This is not going to be a deterrent.”Gillian indicated there could be revisions to the ordinance when it comes up for a public hearing and final Council vote on Dec. 29. He said the city would take its time in crafting a final plan.In the meantime, he encouraged members of the public to contact the city’s community services director, Michael Allegretto, to discuss any concerns they might have with the plan.“It will be a fair and honorable agreement by the time we vote on it again,” Gillian said.Andrew Leonetti, left, and Ricky Hardin, who both play in the same band, object to the proposed ordinance that would regulate Boardwalk performers.Earlier this year, Gillian yanked another ordinance that would have regulated Boardwalk performers. He expressed fear then that it might cause financial harm to some of the younger street performers who live in town. The city also considered passing an ordinance in 2013 to regulate Boardwalk performers, but that measure was tabled.Two Boardwalk performers who play in the same band appeared before Council on Thursday night to oppose the new ordinance. Earlier in the year, they had complained about the first version of the ordinance, and were instrumental in getting the mayor to withdraw it.Andrew Leonetti and Ricky Hardin, both 15-year-old sophomores at Ocean City High School, said they were surprised to learn that the city is making another attempt to regulate Boardwalk performers.“I’m not trying to get on you, but it’s still affecting the youth,” Hardin said of the new ordinance in remarks that were directed at the mayor.Leonetti’s mother and Hardin’s parents also questioned the ordinance. They said they saw no need to charge young performers a licensing fee. They also objected to a provision that would require Boardwalk performers to undergo fingerprinting and criminal background checks. But city officials assured them that only adults would be fingerprinted, not juveniles.The ordinance would require performers to pay $50 for a license. In addition, they would also be charged a $25 administrative fee to pay for the cost of fingerprinting and background checks. Performers under 18 years old would not be fingerprinted, McCrosson said.Anyone with a criminal history of “dishonesty” or a fourth-degree crime or higher would be barred from having a performer’s license, according to the ordinance.Reading from a statement, McCrosson said the proposed regulations would allow the performers to entertain “in a safe and orderly manner, without interfering with each other, and without inhibiting pedestrian traffic or changing the family-friendly character” of the Boardwalk.“The number of these artists on the Ocean City Boardwalk has increased significantly in recent years,” she said. “The administration appreciates their contribution to the Boardwalk atmosphere and has a significant interest in ensuring that their right to perform does not infringe upon the public’s right to traverse and enjoy the Boardwalk.”Under the ordinance, performers would be allowed on the ocean side of the Boardwalk at Seventh, Eighth, Ninth, 10th, 11th, 12th, 13th and 14th streets.They could also perform at the Boardwalk’s oceanfront pavilions located between Fifth and 14th streets. In addition, they would be allowed on the ocean side of the Boardwalk between Fifth and Sixth streets.In other business Thursday, Council introduced a $516,313 budget to pay for publicity and special events in the city’s Special Improvement District. The SID includes the Boardwalk, the Asbury Avenue section of the downtown business district and the Ninth Street corridor.A special tax finances the SID. Family-friendly events such as Easter egg hunts, the fall fireworks, Mummers Nights and Family Nights are funded by the SID.Also Thursday, Council honored the state championship Ocean City High School girls field hockey team. Players on the team joined their coach, Cory Terry, in the Council Chambers to pose for pictures and receive a city proclamation lauding their achievements.“Ocean City field hockey has a lot of traditions. Winning is one of them,” Council Vice President Tony Wilson said.Terry and three players thanked city officials and the community for their support. Terry said the communitywide backing made the entire experience of winning the state championship “unbelievable.”“It’s an honor to teach and coach in this community,” she said.Council Vice President Tony Wilson reads a city proclamation in honor of the state championship Ocean City High School field hockey team.